China accused of deploying more amphibious weapons to eastern coast as tensions with Taiwan rise

Nicola Smith
·2-min read
A satellite image shows the deployment of amphibious armoured vehicles in the PLA's Eastern Theatre Command - Kanwa Defence Review
A satellite image shows the deployment of amphibious armoured vehicles in the PLA's Eastern Theatre Command - Kanwa Defence Review

China has deployed more amphibious weapons in coastal cities across the 110-mile wide strait that separates China from Taiwan, according to reports of recent satellite images. 

The images published in Canadian military magazine Kanwa Asian Defence show that more Type 05 vehicles had been deployed to China’s Eastern Theatre Command, according to the South China Morning Post

The Type 05 is a family of amphibious tracked armoured fighting vehicles developed for the navy marine corps of the People's Liberation Army. 

It comes amid rising tensions between Taiwan and China

China’s communist rulers seek to annex the island of 23 million, which functions like any other nation with its own democratic government and military but lacks widespread recognition as an independent state because of opposition from Beijing.

Beijing has warned it may resort to force if Taipei, which rejects Chinese sovereignty claims, resists its attempts to unify. 

“The PLA ground forces want to play an active role in the Taiwan issue because so far their weapon systems are powerful enough to attack Taiwan without the help of missile force,” said Andrei Chang, editor of Kanwa Asian Defence.

A Taiwanese F-16 flies on the flank of a PLAAF H-6 bomber - AP
A Taiwanese F-16 flies on the flank of a PLAAF H-6 bomber - AP

In late July, Joseph Wu, the Taiwanese foreign minister, warned that China was stepping up military preparedness to take over Taiwan following a recent spike of Chinese drills near the island. 

“Looking on the long-term trend, China appears to be gradually stepping up its military preparedness, especially in air or on the waters near Taiwan,” Mr Wu told reporters. “The threat is on the rise.”

This week it was confirmed that Taiwan’s military has sent a marine company to reinforce a garrison on a small outpost on the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, after reports that the PLA was planning a simulated attack on the islets.

In a recent Reuters investigation, the news agency said that China was launching new amphibious assault ships and beefing up its marines to project power far from home, but also to strengthen its ability to invade Taiwan.

China’s shipyards have launched the PLA Navy’s first two Type 075 amphibious assault ships, capable of carrying up to 900 troops and heavy equipment, which will form the spearhead of an expeditionary force to play a role similar to that of the U.S. Marine Corps, it reported. 

And like the Marines, the new force will be self-contained - able to deploy solo with all its supporting weapons to fight in distant conflicts or demonstrate Chinese military power.